May 12, 2016

Annual D.C. Board Fly-In Concludes with Impactful Meetings

The Western Growers Board of Directors concluded their annual Washington, D.C., fly-in this afternoon following a round of morning meetings at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel.

Most critical was a question and answer session with Estevan Lopez, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, Department of the Interior. The topic of conversation centered around the Bureau’s management of California’s surface water supplies, particularly as it relates to the movement of water south of the Delta. Commissioner Lopez also touched on long-term strategies for managing future water demands in the Colorado River Basin.

The morning session wrapped up with several presentations on the Farmer-Veteran Coalition and sustainability measurement efforts in the agriculture industry.

Thursday’s events followed on the heels of two full days of meetings with key legislative representatives and regulatory officials on Capitol Hill.

After a series of Administration and Senate meetings on Tuesday, the Board spent Wednesday with numerous members of the California House delegation, as well as the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee and two of the top four members of the House Republican leadership – Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy [CA 23] and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers [WA-5].

Similar to the Senate meetings, conversations with the House representatives focused on the prospects for drought relief legislation, immigration and H-2A reform, Endangered Species Act reform and passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Following the House meetings, the Board heard from Ambassador Daniel Hernandez-Joseph, Charge d’ Affaires, Embassy of Mexico. Over dinner, Ambassador Hernandez-Joseph and the Board engaged in lively dialogue around the current U.S.-Mexico relationship, recent growth of the Mexican economy and prospective future flows of Mexican agricultural workers to the United States.

Given the complexities of the issues facing California, Arizona and Colorado fresh produce growers, the annual D.C. Board Meeting serves as an opportunity to open up the lines of communication between our members and federal policymakers. As in previous years, the presence of our Directors will prove invaluable to the ongoing efforts of Western Growers staff to advocate on behalf of our members and the broader agricultural industry.